Photo Credit: Roddy McInnes
Here’s just a preview of the photo series “92,665 Days..” that I have been working towards over the past few months. The amazing people shown in these photographs generously offered to participate in a personal project very close to my heart, to help start a different conversation around the topic of incarceration.
(Read on for a ‘little’ more context….)
Since the War on Drugs was initiated in the 1970’s, U.S. prison population has risen over 700%, leaving over 70 million people with criminal records. Through my research, in my efforts to better understand the various aspects surrounding this topic, I’ve attended lectures, listened to various ex-offenders’ stories, and even sat in forums where I heard a Colorado district attorney nominee deny mass incarceration as a problem in our country. How are we to address a problem when we do not even acknowledge as being a problem? Through all this research I also found that the challenge to end mass incarceration cannot be separated from the efforts to support those in reentry. To truly support the individuals in reentry we need to advocate for the various programs available and even more so the services that are being led by former offenders like those at the Second Chance Center in Aurora, CO. As they work tirelessly to advocate and support formerly incarcerated individuals to transition into lives of fulfillment and success they also work to engage with various aspects of the community around them (like supporting me and my thesis project). I am beyond grateful for all of those who have trusted and supported me with this work but I’m even more thankful for the work they are doing on behalf of this community.
Most of our information and opinions on incarceration is shaped by a tv show, various movies or the horror stories we see in the news. Often times its glamorized or exaggerated upon and so we discard them from society and deem them unworthy even after they served their time, the stigma alone gives them a life sentence. From this rarely do we see the “criminal” for more that what we are told they are; we don’t see the father supporting a family, or a Vietnam veteran who volunteers at the VA hospital weekly, and rarely do we acknowledge the faults in our current system that places a child in an adult prison for 30 years based upon one mistake. With my work, I hope to challenge the current system and to put a face to mass incarceration. My greatest hope is to bring a new perspective to the table, and more importantly to help re-dignify these individuals by giving them a voice.
The rest of the series will be on display at the Vicki Myhren Gallery along with the artwork of my fellow BFA seniors on May 18th at 5pm, hope to see you there!
(PS. A special thank you for my mentor and friend Roddy MacInnes, who has giving me more support than I could have ever imagined during the course of this project. Also another thank you to those at the Second Chance Center, for allowing me this opportunity to engage with this community. And a final thank you to Alex Landau, for making the introduction and networking opportunity and for all of the advocacy work you are doing).